Two years ago amazing Anita Tomasevich, a pianist from Serbia, now living on Cyprus, invited me to perform at her festival Avaton Music Festival in Limassol. I had an unforgettable time and enjoyed every second of my being there. Since the 4th Avaton Music Festival will take place now, on 6th/7th and 8th of June in Theatro Ena – at the old Agora (Market) building in the heart of the old town Limassol, I wanted to share my passion for it with you. I interviewed Anita, the artistic director, who is the heart and soul of it. She impressed me with her sincerity, passion and her ability to share her enthusiasm with her team, her friends and the audience.
B: Anita, I greatly admire your initiative and all your excellent work for the festival. What gave you the idea to start it in the first place?
A: I was always interested in contemporary music but somehow, never had the time to explore it more deeply. Then, in 2006, I had a neck injury after which I couldn’t play the piano anymore. Having being a classical pianist since early childhood, I was devastated… As a way to help myself in that condition, I started researching festivals and listening to composers and performers. It took my mind away from the physical pain I was constantly in and helped my mental state. Contemporary music was related to my sphere of interests, enough to keep me interested but not too close to the classical piano to remind me of the loss…
At that point, a local music teacher asked me if I wanted to arrange a small contemporary music promotional concert. I had many ideas, in fact so many that she soon decided that the project was too complicated…and she cancelled it.
Nevertheless, I was hooked and I decided that I wanted to continue on my own. I brought together a few friends to have some small concerts with contemporary music and organised a two-days-festival. That was all. Just friends gathering and playing music. It wasn’t registered officially and we had almost no budget. Following that, I started exploring the music scene of the island, searched for musicians and people who might be interested in the project and then convinced them to join me. Most of the people volunteered… It was lots of fun! We started in 2009, and I would have never thought that I would continue for that long.
2009, Avaton Music Festival, Shadow Study #4 composed by Jasna Velickovic and performed by her and Anita Tomasevich
B: Which kind of artists come to Cyprus for your festival?
A: Artists whose pieces or performances I fall in love with… artists who have something new to say, or who try out new expressions, techniques. I would love for Avaton to become a place of experimenting with new ideas and sounds.
B: Where do the artists come from?
A: They come from all over the world: Germany, Holland, Serbia, UK, Cyprus, Greece, Australia, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Poland, Mexico, Croatia… We bring local artists and guests together to collaborate.
B: You have many different ways of presenting new music to an audience. One of it is avatonDistorted. Please, tell me more about it.
A: avatonDistorted is a late night concert in a nontraditional setting, for example at a local bar. It is our playground for experimental performances, electronic music, video art, even unfinished works and tryouts, basically, everything that is difficult to fit into a regular format of experimental art on Cyprus. avatonDistorted is our way of “spreading the sound” in a non traditional way to people who normally would not know anything about it. They can listen to it while having a drink or passing by, and maybe they hear something they like and they want to find out more about us.
The latest feature of Avaton, the “Make your own electronic instrument” workshop, goes even a step further and offers a direct involvement for anybody who is interested without asking for previous knowledge in music. There is no age limit. Everyone is welcome. (The workshop takes place on Sunday 8th of June, 11.30-13.30 hrs, at the School of Music Novia Mavromoustaki, Limassol
Here, Nasia Therapontos will help us to develop little electronic instruments from everyday objects. If you want to take part, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Avaton-Facebook page. Don’t miss the fun and the opportunity to develop your technical abilities and discover your hidden talents. The highlight will be, when the participants will perform in a concert at avatonDistorted “Play your electronics” with their brandnew instruments.
B: Maybe one last word about the people who are around you?
A: Avaton could not exist without the help of my friends and the financial support of our sponsors. I cannot mention them all, but I really want to point out EventPro and their director Yiannis Iona, who are very important for us. They help us with all the technical equipment and without them this kind of festival would not be possible here.
I am very happy that the Avaton family is growing. Every year there are new people who want to join and help out in developing the festival even further! I want to thank them from all my heart. I don’t think we would have come this far without them!
Come and visit us on Cyprus, enjoy the Avaton Music Festival 2014.